When establishing a Plan B or backup residency, most people look for the easiest option… but “easiest” isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept.
This debate came up during a conference call with my editorial team earlier this year. We realized that we’d used the term “world’s easiest residency” in two different articles, one referencing Colombia, the other Panama.
In fact, both things are true. Panama is the easiest place to qualify for residency… but Colombia’s process is easier, meaning its visa is easier to acquire once you’ve qualified.
And those aren’t the only ways one residency can be “easier” than another. You also want to consider how difficult the residency, once obtained, is to maintain. As well, there are different kinds of residency programs—those intended specifically for retirees, for example, and those you qualify for through investment. Some of these are “easier” than others, of course.
Here’s how I’d rate your best options across categories right now…
Panama—Easiest Residency To Qualify For
Panama is the easiest backup residency from the perspective of qualifying for residency. If you’re from one of 50 countries, then you qualify for residency in Panama under the Specific Countries residency program or what is commonly called the Friendly Nations residency visa. It doesn’t get any easier to qualify for residency than by simply carrying a passport from a country that Panama deems worthy.
Colombia—Easiest Residency Process
While qualifying for residency in Colombia is easy, it’s not as simple as being a citizen of certain countries. Where Colombia shines, though, is its process. It’s straightforward, transparent, and doesn’t require a background check from your current country of residence. All requirements are clearly spelled out on the immigration website, and the requirements aren’t open to interpretation at the point when you interact with the individual immigration agents… as can be the case elsewhere in the world (Mexico, for example).
Dominican Republic—Easiest Residency To Maintain
The Dominican Republic has what is probably the easiest residency permit to maintain. It comes with no time-in-country requirement. Once you’ve obtained permanent residency, you keep it simply by renewing your residency card every four years. If you’re not in the country to renew your card, you don’t lose your residency, you simply pay a penalty for every month you’re late in renewing. The nominal monthly penalties can add up over time if you go too long, but, as a backup residency, this can be your best option.
Nicaragua—Easiest Pensionado Program To Qualify For
The minimum income requirement to qualify for Nicaragua’s pensionado program is just US$600 per month. As the average monthly Social Security payment is more than US$1,400, most anyone receiving Social Security is in. If you don’t yet qualify for Social Security, you can obtain rentista residency in Nicaragua by showing as little as US$750 per month of stable permanent income (from a rental property, interest from a CD, or dividends from stocks, for example).
Ecuador—Easiest Through Investment
Ecuador offers the world’s easiest residency-through-investment option. You simply have to invest 70 times the minimum monthly salary in a bank CD for 2 years (730 days). That amounts to US$28,000. Or you can invest in real estate at 80 times minimum monthly salary, or US$32,000. You can also invest in a private company (can be your own company); the minimum investment requirement is 100 times the minimum monthly salary, or US$40,000 right now.
Portugal—Easiest In Europe
Right now, I’d call Portugal the easiest residency option in Europe. You can qualify simply by showing sufficient means. The specific amount isn’t stipulated and is at the discretion of the immigration agent handling the case; however, our attorney in Lisbon says that 1,200 euros a month is sufficient. Any provable passive income qualifies.
Editor, Offshore Living Letter
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